Once a kidnapping victim, dealer now an inmate

ATLANTA - A drug dealer who made headlines when authorities found him chained up in a Lilburn basement last summer was sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison Tuesday.

A federal judge sentenced Oscar Reynoso, 31, a native of the Dominican Republic, to 46 months for his role in distributing cocaine supplied by a drug cell operating in Gwinnett.

"There are no free passes for drug dealers, even when they become the victims of crimes by their associates," said U.S. Attorney David Nahmias in a prepared statement. "We want the drug dealers, and the violence that accompanies their illegal business, to stay out of Georgia."

After Reynoso's rescue on July 11 last year - a move officials have said saved his life - he pleaded guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge in March. His sentence, to be followed by five years probation, was reduced because he cooperated with authorities and implicated his kidnappers.

Reynoso languished in the East Fork Shady Drive home for a week before local and federal authorities - acting on a tip about a possible hostage situation - arrested the three captors who'd beat, bound and gagged him.

Authorities found Reynoso chained, severely dehydrated and hyperventilating near a mattress. He was reportedly being held as ransom for owing a man named "Tio" about $300,000 in drug-related debts, the Justice Department said.

Reynoso has denied owning the drug-runners money but admitted to moving drugs in Rhode Island with Tio.

His three captors - Victor Abiles-Gomez, 20, Omar Mendoza-Villegas, 19, and Gerardo Solorio-Reyes, 23 - pleaded guilty to federal hostage-taking, drug and firearms charges in March. All three are illegal Mexican immigrants, authorities said. They are scheduled to be sentenced in July.

Tio remains at large.

The incident - the second high-profile kidnapping related to drug trafficking that month - served to solidify Gwinnett's status as a focal point of Mexican drug cartels.

The county's burgeoning Hispanic population and abundance of highways make it appealing to cartels looking to push cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico to the Eastern seaboard.